As a fan of rock and metal, I prefer Download as my yearly, weekend festival, but I have a soft spot for the standard stereotypes of festival vibes that are enhanced at Reading (glitter faces, floral headbands and smoke bombs). In 2014 I camped for the weekend but every other time I have gone has just been for a day. I like that Reading caters for many different people and their individual music styles, but I feel that most of the time there isn’t enough bands I like on 1 or 2 of the days to justify a weekend ticket. I now tend to pick out the day I find most appealing and go with a few friends. This year I chose Sunday. Although I prefer the atmosphere at Download, Reading does always get better weather and with mild spots and light showers of rain, this year wasn’t an exception.
We began the day with a McDonalds breakfast (not optional when going to a festival), and a 2 hour drive to Reading before parking up in the city center and walking to the festival grounds. Once we got google maps working it was easy enough to find. We parked a little distance from the festival site, which actually made it a lot easier when leaving the festival that night. We got in quickly with not much waiting for our wristbands or arena entry. Once we were in my friend and I walked around checking out the stalls and band merchandise, but didn’t end up purchasing anything as I found it a little disappointing this year.
We didn’t have any plans to watch any bands for about 2 hours, so we ended up checking out State Champs. They were the first to play on the main stage and I have heard their name a lot before but never listened to them. I was pleasantly surprised, and intend on checking them out to see if I like their stuff recorded as much as I did live. We then met up with two other friends and hung out until Coheed and Cambria. I have heard a little of the band before, but I wouldn’t class myself as a fan. That’s not to say that I don’t like them, and in fact they were good, but they didn’t blow me away or get me dying to start listening to them.
After C&C, I attempted to see Deaf Havana. I say attempt as I was only planning on trying to catch them for the 10 minutes that they were on before Sleeping With Sirens were back on the main stage. In all honesty, I wish I hadn’t bothered at all. The Radio 1 stage tent was packed as ever and it actually gave me some anxiety being surrounded by so many people. Again I’m not a die hard fan of Deaf Havana, but I do really enjoy their song Friends Like These, which isn’t even on their setlist anymore. After about 2 songs, I decided to escape, and meet some friends that had been camping for the whole weekend, to watch Sleeping With Sirens together. I left the others that I was with, so I had to escape the packed tent alone which I didn’t like, and finally made it out to find that SWS were already on stage. Once I met with my friends, we stood to the left of the stage and observed from some distance. I have seen SWS a few times before, including at Reading 2014. I enjoy seeing them and hearing Kellin’s voice live, but I still had my anxious feeling from before so I didn’t get into the set as much as I would have liked. I think maybe if they played Trophy Father’s Trophy Son, I would have been more into it as it’s one of my favourites. However, they still did good and didn’t disappoint.
After their set we decided to get a drink, which actually helped me to relax and enjoy myself more. From this cider, and a few later on, my mood quickly improved and I began enjoying myself, a bit too much. With our drinks still in hand, we met back up with our other friends joining as one group, to watch Five Finger Death Punch. This band was one of the major selling points for me going on the Sunday, and the band I was looking forward to seeing most. Five Finger are a band that I forget how much I like until I listen to them and fall in love all over again. I saw them at Download last year but we stood far back on the hill and weren’t really in the atmosphere enough to really enjoy it. They also had a short set where as this year at Reading they were playing for a whole hour. With my improved mood I was singing (badly) and bopping along from the get go and enjoyed every moment of their set. Each song starting was like discovering another masterpiece that I had forgotten my love for and they were by far the best band of the day, up until this point at least.
Until now the rain had been on and off continuously all day and it was getting tedious putting my jacket on and off, but luckily it stopped during Five Finger’s set and didn’t come back for the rest of the day. It was now nearly 5PM which meant it was definitely time for some food. We decided to grab a cheeseburger and another drink and sit by the left side of the stage in the sun. It was nice, until A$AP Rocky’s set began. Flocks of people started running towards the stage when the set was beginning and all I could hear was the words ‘hands up’ and ‘mosh pit’ repeatedly. It was not my style of music at all and we began to get tired listening to it, so we checked out what was on the other stages. We decided to go and see Rat Boy, who was also not quite to my taste but was more enjoyable.
After Rat Boy we still had a few hours to kill, so we decided to get more drinks and check out The Vaccines in the meantime. They aren’t my style of music and I only know a few songs but I did enjoy their set and got distracted watching the people around me dance and go crazy for them which was fun. Next up to watch were Fall Out Boy.
Like a lot of people, I had my emo phase back in the day. I never became a die hard Fall Out Boy fan, but I did enjoy a lot of their songs when they came on. I used to belt out Dance, Dance on Singstar and always sing along to Thnks Fr Th Mmrs when it came on Kerrang. They are one of those bands that you have to see when given the opportunity, to make your younger self content, and up until this point I had never seen them before. I really enjoyed their set and sang my heart out with my friends to the songs I’d listen to when I was 13. I am a fan of some of their new stuff too and enjoyed the ones that they included, but old FOB will always be better. They had a cool stage show with fire and dancing girls, and I very much enjoyed the fireworks.
Reading was advertised as Biffy Clyro and Fall Out Boy joint headlining Sunday night, but in reality it was Biffy Clyro closing the show. Other headliners for the alternative stage included Good Charlotte and The 1975 which left me with a debate on who to see. I was worried that Good Charlotte would clash with Fall Out Boy but once I discovered that they didn’t I was sold. I was going to finish Reading with another one of my childhood emo phase bands, and I have to say it was one of the best decisions I made. Good Charlotte blew it up in that tiny little tent, and the atmosphere was incredible. Everyone went crazy when they came on and there wasn’t one person in the tent not singing along. They sounded just like they do on their album that they released a whole 14 years ago, and impressed me a lot. Once their set was over everyone shouted for an encore, they were so persistent that the band actually came on stage to apologise for not being allowed to play a song, which I thought was courteous of the band and you could see how appreciative they were.
After that finish it was hard to determine the best band of the day, although I think Good Charlotte may have edged it a little with the atmosphere that was created, followed closely by Five Finger Death Punch and Fall Out Boy. Originally I was certain that I wasn’t going to attend Reading at all this year, but the closer it got the more tempting the line up became and the more I caved in. I am so glad I did because the bands made it so worth while and I ended up enjoying myself so much that I pray for a good line up next year so I can go back. Did you go to Reading this year? Let me know who was your favourite, or if you’re planning on going next year. April